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The role of religion: new poll accentuates the positive

More than half of respondents in a new global poll on the role of religion believe it has a positive impact - but Western Europe results were much more negative ...






















A global poll by WIN/Gallup International has revealed that more than half of respondents believe that religion plays a positive role in their country, with people in Western Europe recording significantly lower positive results than other regions.

• More than half (59%) of global respondents said that religion plays a positive role
• 22% of respondents globally believe that religion plays a negative role in their country
• Western Europe was significantly less net positive regionally (4%) than the rest of the world where overall net positivity is 37%
• Education proved a significant factor globally with those educated to Masters or PhD level being significantly less net positive about the role religion is playing (20%) increasing to 57% net positive for those with no education
• Globally Protestants and Muslims were the most net positive (60%) about the role of religion in their respective countries; Hindus were the least net positive (24%)
The global perspective
In the run up to the Easter period, WIN/Gallup International has released findings that show just over half (59%) of the 66,806 people polled feel that religion plays a positive role in their country.

This, however, is not a sentiment reflected across all the regions, with Western Europe showing a low net positivity (the net score is the total positive percentage less the total negative percentage) at only 4% – a figure that is significantly less than the global average (37%). When compared to other regions, there is a notable step to Eastern Europe at 33%, followed by Asia at 37%. 

This lower positivity in Western Europe may be attributed to the secular nature of the region in comparison to other parts of the world.
Jean-Marc Leger, President of WIN/Gallup International, said: “This survey has produced some fascinating results and not least on the religious outlook of countries. Over half of the world still believes that religion plays a positive role in their country. Having said that, it is interesting to note that Western Europe bucks this trend considerably, highlighting the complex role of religion within the region and the impact that a secular outlook has on a country. The correlation between education and people’s view on the role of religion in society also poses some interesting questions.”
In total there were nine countries whose net scores were negative when asked about religion, with six of those falling within Western Europe (Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden). 

Of these, Denmark was the most net negative at -36%, followed by Belgium (-30%), France (-22%) and Spain (-22%). By contrast, the most net positive country in this region was Iceland (43%) followed by Portugal (39%), which may be due to these countries having one dominant religion. On a global scale, the most net negative country was Lebanon (-43%).
While Western Europe may have come in significantly less positive than the other regions polled, there is generally a positive belief in the role of religion elsewhere in the world. The most net positive region globally is Africa (65%) followed by the Americas (54%) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa) (50%), and these high response rates may be due to the less secular nature of these regions. The most positive country globally was Indonesia, with 95% stating religion played a positive role, whilst, as a comparison, the USA and the UK are both net positive at 43% and 6% respectively.
Religion still holds great importance in the US with 62% of respondents saying religion plays a positive role in the country, culminating in net positivity of 43%. This shows that the majority of US respondents hold religion central to their values, something which is still reflected in the country’s politics – and something this poll would suggest is unlikely to change in the near future.

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